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Alex B. Overcoming the fear around migraines

Discussion in 'Ask a TMS Therapist' started by Guest, Sep 3, 2015.

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    Question
    I've been working on TMS for chronic migraines for a few weeks now but I still struggle with the idea of not being afraid of the pain.
    It really hurts when I get a migraine and I can't just push it aside. When I feel one coming on, I try to self talk, fight my inner bully or talk compassionately to myself as well as practicing the body scan depending on the time.
    I feel like working on the TMS is helping me avoid the migraine in the first place but once I do get one, I just can't ignore it.
    Advice??
     
  2. Alex Bloom LCSW

    Alex Bloom LCSW TMS Therapist

    Answer
    Hi, thanks for the question. One of my clients that I saw this morning struggles with migraines, and it's a fairly common symptom. In fact, I myself have had to deal with them so I completely understand how difficult it can be! They really seem to have the capacity to take over. Indeed, it's a very daunting prospect to even think about anything else when they are in full effect.

    I will tell you what I told my client this morning. In cases of full-blown migraines, the first thing you can do is stop pressuring yourself to "push it aside" or ignore it. You won't be able to. As you say, they a really tough. But pressuring yourself to react the "right" way to them, to give yourself relief in the moment, is just going to keep you in that cycle of helplessness in fear.

    Instead, what you can do is simply remind yourself that it is a temporary situation, and that you don't need to be afraid of the migraine. Does it hurt? Absolutely. Do you wish it would go away? Of course. But framing it as though you can control your symptom through the "proper" response is just upping the ante and keeping the symptom as your metric for success. You say that at times working on the TMS can help prevent the migraine in the first place. That's great! It's more evidence that what you are dealing with is not structural, which means that you can really convince yourself that, other than some physical pain, you have nothing to fear from the headache. It doesn't mean you are damaging yourself or in danger, it just means you are in pain. That will pass, and when it does then you can reflect on self-talk and the inner bully, etc. While the headache is there, simply take care of yourself with compassion and comfort that fearful part of yourself. It is a temporary situation! The more you are able to ok with the fact that sometimes the symptom will be there, the less capacity it will have to frighten you. As you drop away your fear, the pain will begin to recede as it will not be fulfilling its purpose of distraction and preoccupation.


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